May wine has come up a time or two throughout the years. It’s a traditional German drink around the start of May when the first strawberries are ripening and woodruff blossoms, and witches have incorporated it into Beltane festivities. It is incredibly easy to make: just chop up a few strawberries and throw them and a few sprigs of fresh woodruff into some sweet white wine. You don’t have to infuse it for very long–an hour or so will be fine, especially in regards to the woodruff, which is surprisingly potent–and you’re left with a wonderful spring drink tasting of vanilla, sweetgrass, muscat, and berry.
It is very easy to make up, but some wineries do make their own May wine blends, and the best one I have ever tried is that from the Pacific Northwest’s Latah Creek Wine Cellars. They’re a 30-year-old company based out of Spokane Valley, Washington. They’re innovators in slow-cold fermentation wines, and their Maywine is spot-freaking-on. Most commercial may wines taste like someone stirred Smuckers strawberry jam into a sweet box white, but Latah Creek’s is smooth and balanced. It may be a tad sweeter than when made fresh, but the strawberry is a light touch behind the woodruff and white wine, just as it should be.
The wine is made from 100% Chenin Blanc grapes grown in the Columbia Valley and blended with dried woodruff and natural strawberry concentrate. The winery says that their 2015 vintage is their best ever, which is saying something as Wine Press Northwest Magazine rated their 2010 as outstanding, noting:
This traditional German-style wine has a significant following around Spokane, Wash., thanks to Mike Conway. The long-time Washington winemaker takes Chenin Blanc then adds woodruff and strawberry concentrate to create a fun drink that pairs marvelously with holiday fare and curries. Its nose brings hints of sweet strawberry jam, apricot, banana, honey, patchouli and honey. Flavors include strawberry, raspberry, lemon chiffon, pineapple, and clover. Granted, there’s considerable sugar (6%), yet its acid profile is reminiscent of an orange milkshake and enough to create balance.
Latah Creek products are available in stores throughout Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, and a full store listing for any vintage can be found through the winery’s website. Bottles can also be ordered through the website or through Amazon. Prices average around $10 per bottle, plus shipping.